Thousands of people, delegates, visitors from unions and human rights organisations and international visitors from 30 nation’s attended the 4th Congress of the HDP (in Ankara, Turkey). The international visitors included former Labour MEP, Julie Ward, and Stephen Smellie of Peace in Kurdistan.

Given that hundreds of party members, workers and elected MPs, Mayor’s and councillors have been arrested in recent weeks it is amazing that anyone turns up.

The conference was part celebration of the achievements of the HDP and its members and leaders and part statement of determination to continue the struggle for democracy and peace.

The party’s system of electing 2 co-chairs, one must be a woman, has been branded as an act of supporting terrorism by some Turkish government spokespeople but they continued the policy and elected new co-chairs as well as a new executive and commissions. 

Whilst also agreeing a raft of policy positions to take forward the Congress heard from a range of international speakers and messages of support from within Turkey and from around the world were either read out or shown on video. This included a message of support from the GFTU.

The speeches from the platform were all making the point that the repression of Kurdish, women’s, workers’ and basic human and democratic rights in Turkey must end. 

The 38 HDP Mayors who have been sacked from office must be reinstated. Former co-chairs Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdeg must be released from prison and the charges against them must be dropped. Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan must be freed from his 21 years in prison. Most of all the Turkish state must end its war against the Kurds, both in Turkey and Rojava, and work towards a peace that will allow real democracy to develop in Turkey.